Winter broke like a fever and suddenly it’s spring, birds chirp merrily in the trees, darting down to the spongy moss covered earth that’s bare and raw, snow drawn back like a curtain, exposing little shriveled fermented apples and wiggling earthworms. The air is warm and damp and full of excitement because spring is literally about to burst at the seams. It’s still gray and dark and lifeless but the ground is pregnant with the moving force of vitality. The trees are itching with buds ready to bust open. Flowers will push their way through the wet, dark earth. Leaves will unfurl on trees until the entire forest behind my house is in full bloom, displaying a full spectrum of green. A warm swell of clear, clean air has pushed out the crispness of winter in one swoop, honeycombs are buzzing with bees, clear sap is pouring out of trees. The earth is dizzy and punch drunk, rays of sunshine cracking through gray skies, flies awakening from deep hibernation and buzzing at the corners of glass windows.
Spring. At last, spring.
It seemed like it would never come, the vast ocean of winter laying heavy on the land but finally we have a ray of hope to grasp.
I wandered aimlessly through the woods on Saturday following my toddler’s lead, baby on my back, cat tagging along behind us, the white diamond breast of his tuxedo coat betraying his surreptitiousness. The wind carried with it the smell of new life, the earthy smell of birth and freshness and a brand new start. The rich and loamy smell of the dirt so pungent that you could almost taste it. Even rainy Sundays are celebrated with open windows and a feeling of renewed spirit. There’s a promise in the air, an excitement that’s both mystifying and dazzling.
As I was preparing to conclude and submit this (overdue) post, the temperature dropped 40 degrees in the span of seven hours, the sky darkened, and snow piled up in the yard, ice crusted our windshields, our bodies bent despondently like the trees. My finger hovered over the ‘delete’ key, ready to throw away my work, my hope, when it occurred to me – this is a great metaphor for parenting. Isn’t parenting all sunshine and happiness until a baby throws a nap strike, or a toddler falls to the floor in the middle of Walmart during mud season and refuses to move, or you come slamming up against the brick wall of not sleeping enough, not eating enough, not getting any time to self, absolutely positive you’re not cut out for parenting and you’re ruining your child’s life?
Parenting, much like snow in April when you’re finally settling into the comforting embrace of spring, challenges me to the core. Parenting forces me to turn inward, to sift through my own associations, my own issues, to engage in a deep and spiritual inner work. Parenting forces me to be ok with the unexpected – the snow days in April when it should be warm and sunny – to be disciplined so that I can be a great model for my children. Engaging in the dance of parenting means an onslaught of tests and trials, it means challenging yourself to be cool in the most heated situations, it means not having expectations that your children will be well behaved, or your house will be clean, or you’ll get to sleep through the night, or the weather will stay warm and sunny and spring-like.
Some tulips shoots poked through red mulch underneath a few sawed off cedar trunks the other day, the first real sign of life to date, and the sturdy tips of green are standing tall and proud despite the snow, reaching up towards the sunlight, a reminder to trust the process, have faith that spring is coming, have faith that we’re doing this parenting thing right. A reminder to submit myself and my expectations to the ebb and flow of life itself, whatever it brings – whether it’s a snow storm in April or a breezy, warm summer’s day.